Tonight … Chuck Palahniuk

Tonight I’m going to try to get into a reading by Chuck Palahniuk of his new book “Tell All”.

If you’re in Chicago, I’ll meet you there. He’ll be at Harold Washington Library. Reading starts at 6. I’m worried I’m not going to get a seat.

Last night, Tina and I watched SNL with Betty White. It was so funny all the way through to the very last sketch. If you didn’t watch it, find someone who recorded it, and give them a reach around to get them to show you their recording. Seriously, it was that good.

Or watch it on Hulu and skip the reach around.

I suggest the reach around (I have it recorded BTW).

If nothing else, watch this well directed and performed clip (link will take you away from le Café.

Speaking of baby making … Raising kids without religion

This morning I posted an update about our effort to have kids. Over at The Whore of all the Earth, Leah wrote about an experience with her five year old when he asked what the “t” stood for on top of a church.

Leah wrote:

I thought about telling him the Christian story, just so he knows what it’s about and why  Christian churches have crosses. But then I paused as I realized that this would involve telling him about a man who was whipped and beaten and then had nails driven through his hands and feet and hung on a cross for several agonizing hours before dying. Sure, I wouldn’t go into that much detail, but it’s kind of hard to explain the cross without explaining the crucifixion, which is brutal and graphic. My son is very sweet and gentle. I want to preserve that innocence a bit longer.

Nope, I think he’s too young to hear about the crucifixion of Christ, just like I think he’s too young for Batman or James Bond. Maybe when you’re older, son.

I’m behind Leah’s rationale to avoid discussing the story. There’s plenty of time for grandiose stories of violence and discussion of all the world’s religions (not just Christianity).

Speaking from first-hand experience, there’s not a day that passes by that I don’t study or discuss religion (on or off the blog) and I often joke that I can’t pick up a stick, a broom or a pencil without pretending it’s a gun. Perhaps violence and religion are so deeply engrained in genes that they are unavoidable.

Growing up, my parents did a good job talking about other religions. Only they made sure to say how wrong the other religions were. After I learned more about those religions, I found out how other religious families said the same thing about my (former) religion. I think the environmental argument of belief is one of the best arguments against faith. That is, the tendency is that you adopt the religion of your environment.

Once you have that religion as a foundation, entire families adopt the religious meme and pass it along to their children. There are families that I know who pass along religious rituals to their children, not because they believe them personally, but because they don’t want older loved ones to be disappointed. I don’t understand this at all.

Faith that is unexplored should not be passed along to children … which is why I think Leah is doing precisely what she should do.

That’s why it seemed timely when I visited the Friendly Atheist today and Hemant posted a trailer for a new movie called, “Skipping Sunday School.” It’s about raising kids without church or faith.

Check it out and let me know what you think. If you had kids, would you raise them with faith? Without? Why? Why not?

O’Reilly, Palin prove they’re illiterates. Bravo.

The first amendment says:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Go here to read the constitution of the United States of America. If you search for the word “god”, this is what comes up:

The word or idea of “god” is not found in the US Constitution. Imagine that.

The people of the United States can do whatever they want in terms of freely worshiping or not worshiping a god or gods.

The government, however, cannot make one religion stand out above another.

Palin is so ridiculous that she makes the “In God We Trust” statement about money. Go read the history of “God Trust” here.

Not being able to read is so 15th century, guys. What excuses do you have for not reading the documents and ideas you cite?

[Via Pharyngula]

The Wittifini’s are pluggin’ along

Readers of this blog may recall that Tina and I have been hoping to conceive for some time now. Our efforts were deflated over the Christmas holiday, but it hasn’t stopped us from trying to get prego through fertility treatments. We’ve also done our damnedest through the traditional method of sex … you may have heard of this before.

We took some months off shot treatments, but have started some less invasive procedures over the past two months.

Our first foray into fertility treatments was with shots. That was already six months ago. Tina hates shots, and I had to give her one shot per day for about seven days before an artificial insemination of my semen. Between the stress and the pain of shots and blood work, I don’t think either one of us could go through that hell again.

We’re way less stressed about the whole thing, and hopefully that will help out with the whole process.

Tina started doing acupuncture treatment, which you may know I don’t agree with. But Tina and I aren’t on the same page regarding religion and alternative treatments. I have to agree that the acupuncture has helped some, because before, Tina couldn’t even have phlebotomy done without me holding her down (literally).

Now Tina can have blood drawn on her own, which helps out with my schedule, too. So Tina has ameliorated her sense of self and her pain threshold (psychosomatic or not)

My equilibrium is brimming

You may recall too that I was dealing with blood pressure issues last fall, and I have since taken care of it through diet, exercise and being mindful of my schedule for work. I’ve got the ultimate inspiration, my Mom, who has survived so much physical hardship through diet and exercise that we should all find ways to emphasize it in our lives.

I’ve worked on getting my equilibrium balanced, which I think has helped me tremendously.

I consume far less alcohol than I did just a year ago. I drink very little coffee, just a cup of green tea in the morn. Although I have been drinking an occasional cup of joe lately. It tastes so good.

We eat almost all fresh produce and meats. Since we both work from home, we’re able to do things that seem almost impossible to the average working mope.

And I sleep more.

I went from major paranoia at night to an oblivious indifference without the use of drugs. It’s amazing how much exercise and diet can affect these things.

My blood pressure is consistently around 120 over 80, which is still on the cusp of prehypertension, but it’s not above the levels, so I’m cool. At night and in the morning, it’s around 110 over 65. It’s a far cry from 145 over 120, let me tell you.

My workout regimen is slowly moving up. Yesterday, I biked to the gym and back (3.6 miles total). I swam 1,800 yards in the pool. That’s a little over a mile. I ran a 5K on the treadmill in 24.5 minutes. Swimming has been my largest hurdle. I use other people in the pool as my rabbits for inspiration. Just last week I was barely doing 10 laps without stopping. Over the course of a couple weeks, I pushed myself from 10 laps at a time to 35 laps without stopping yesterday.

When I swim for that long, I hit a point of complete uselessness. All I can do is keep count in my head and concentrate on breathing. Flip turns start getting lazier and lazier the longer I go, and eventually toward the end of the swim, I bail on flipping and just turn at the wall.

What’s a Wittifini?

For those of you who don’t know, Tina’s last name is Serafini, and we jokingly call ourselves “Wittifinis”. A couple months ago, we saw my family and my niece and my sister asked Tina what her last name was. Tina explained that marriage doesn’t automatically change a woman’s last name. It’s a process, and while it’s not too difficult, it’s not simple. Whoever or whatever forbid that Tina should retain her identity despite getting married. Sheesh.

Not being traditional affects our family in ways we find are odd. Of course they think it’s odd too.

Surprisingly, I don’t own Tina, and we find the necessity to adopt the man’s last name as a reference to an era that represents subjugation of women to second-class citizen. It also represents a time when racism was even more severe than it still is today, and it also represents that gay marriage is still considered taboo.

The last name game can suck it.

Should we have kids, Tina claims she’ll take the Witteveen name, which I still find unnecessary. There’s got to be a way to make it work with two last names. I don’t care how long Serafini Witteveen is.

That’s it for an update

It’s been a long time without a personal update. So there you have it. Of course we appreciate all the well wishes and — yes — even the prayers people say they are doing for us. We don’t understand when people edit their words to not include the word prayer. I hear it in my family’s voices all the time and it’s boggles my mind.

I’m the one who’s supposed to edit, which I do constantly. Little do they know how far out of my way I go not to say so many things. I know they do the same thing, but they refuse to talk to me about atheism, so it just makes for some awkward moments.

For the most part, this is the only place I discuss atheism. I don’t know many non-believers, so my community is here. So thanks again or in advance. You’re the best.

If you’re curious about anything else, you best write a question in the comments.